So the other day I'm watching game 4 of the NBA Finals (hoping Golden State finally puts Cleveland out of their misery) and a teaser trailer comes on for Marvel Studio's upcoming Black Panther movie. It starts off with an interrogation scene with two white guys discussing the fictional nation of Wukanda, and I'm thinking I'm in there store for a typical run of the mill movie trailer, but once it got past the introduction and got to the meat of the sandwich, consider my wig totally flipped!!
This was hands down, the most impressive trailer for a superhero movie I have ever seen. And I've watched alot of superhero movies and trailers. I totally hope that the overall mood of the final cut of the film was captured in that trailer. The colors, the action, the acting, the atmosphere, the conflict, and overall feel of this movie teaser had me screaming at the TV "Shut up and take my money, Marvel!!" And this wasn't just because I'm some comic book nerd/man-boy. What I potentially see with this film, or what I think I'm seeing with this film, I just have never seen done before: a superhero movie with a black hero, black supporting cast, set in a black country, but designed for a mainstream audience.
Sure, we've seen movies with black superheroes before (Spawn, Blade and Hancock come to mind), but with those films, the heroes still existed and operated in a majority white world, and in most cases had a white love interest playing opposite to the main character. I don't know what will be laid out in the Black Panther movie, but in the comics he marries Storm. We've also seen black superheroes in superhero movies, but they've often been relegated to sidekicks and background characters (See: Falcon in Captain America, Bishop in X-Men Days of Future Past, or the ill-fated Darwin in X-Men: First Class) who bite the dust early or are an afterthought. We've also seen movies with black protagonists and black supporting casts, but these films could be classified as blaxpoitation films in their earliest stages in the 60s and 70s and even though modern films with those descriptors have shed the "blaxpoitation" label, it is pretty clear that they were made with the intent of only (or at least a majority) black people seeing these movies (See: Meteor Man, Black Superman, Shaft, Dolemite). They also fell victim to being creatively and artistically lazy and falling back on stereotypical characters of what white mainstream audiences assumed black people acted like and talked like.
With this Black Panther movie, what I assume I'm seeing is a movie with a strong, super intelligent, super rich, black protagonist operating in a black setting in the world, interacting with other strong, black characters both good and bad. I also assume I'm seeing black African culture being embraced and featured in a positive and progressive light as opposed to the usual image of a bunch of poor, culturally bankrupt savages who need a white savior or saviors to elevate them out of the stone age. This is what I think I'm seeing. For all I know T'Challa's love interest in the movie may be a Kardashian or a Jenner and the studio is doing their best to keep that mess a secret until the movie drops, but if what I see in this teaser is any indication of how awesome the film will be (or the soundtrack, I peeped that Run The Jewels playing in the commercial), then my expectations are super high. Look out Meteor Man, black America may have a new official superhero sitting on your throne soon!